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Houston County Courier - Local News

Copyright 2013 - Polk County Publishing Company

Council hears burning issue
Houston County Courier

By Lynda Jones

Following a citizen complaint to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) regarding the burning of leaves, limbs and trees at the Crockett Solid Waste and Recycling Center, the state agency recently came to Crockett to inspect the facility. During the Monday, Dec. 9 Crockett City Council meeting, Deputy City Administrator Ray Fleming reported that TCEQ prohibits the city from burning materials it cannot recycle. Additionally, the city no longer can use its "walking floor" trailer for compacting and transporting solid waste collections to the landfill. TCEQ considers anything it does not recycle or reuse to be commercial solid waste, Fleming reported, and all commercial solid waste must be delivered directly to the landfill. As a result of this ruling, the city now must use its two garbage packer trucks (Bulldog and Big Blue) for transporting solid waste directly to the landfill four days a week. The city's grinder for recycling leaves and tree limbs has been broken and officials are awaiting a part to fix it. Fleming said he hoped the machine could be repaired by the end of the week, noting that city employees at the recycling center have been receiving "hate calls" on a daily basis from citizens who are angry about their yard debris not being picked up by the city. Until the grinder is repaired, however, the city is not picking up leaves and limbs from residents because TCEQ considers them to be commercial solid waste. Fleming explained that when the city's site operating plan was revised in 2008, "for some reason", one line regarding the acceptance of commercial solid waste at the facility was omitted from the plan. "We're not allowed to bring any commercial solid waste into our recycling center," Fleming said. "If it is not in our operating plan, we cannot do it." If the city does not follow every letter of TCEQ regulations, it could lose its operating license for the solid waste and recycling center, Fleming said. He also explained that the transfer station has not been inspected in many years, so the TCEQ employee inspected the facility while he was here. Fleming said the inspector was very impressed with the condition of the yard, and only found eight small items to be corrected. Those items were corrected within two working days of the inspection, according to Fleming. Fleming said he is working on a TCEQ application that will allow the city to place a container inside the gate to the recycling center where citizens can bring and place big limbs for transport to the landfill. He said this will be a citizens' collection center. Citizens will be charged for this service, he added. Meadows commented on the expense of sending the packer trucks every day to the landfill with solid waste, and Robbins noted the added cost from fuel and wear and tear on the vehicles. Fleming explained he is working with the city attorney and TCEQ officials to make a modification to the site plan that will ultimately allow the city to accept commercial solid waste on site and once again use the walking floor trailer for transporting it to the landfill. However, he said, it can take months to get the modification approved. In addition to using the attorney, the city must use an architect to draw up the proposed modification. "Any change to your site operating plan requires a modification," Fleming said. The site's operating hours also must be changed through the modification process. The site plan stipulates that operating hours will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Fleming explained. "Our employees work eight hours a day," he said. Meadows commented, "This is quite an expensive hiccup you've inherited."


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